Kuta, Indonesia

Kuta. Oh, what can I say about this place? It was certainly a change from Gili Air. A fast paced city full of people trying to sell things to the throngs of foreigners (mostly Australian) who invade the city.

Kuta - SurferKuta is famous for it’s surfing. This beach was full of
wannabe surfers who were trying their best to stay on
their boards – some were better than others. It was
pretty cool to watch.

Kuta is the city where the 2002 and 2005 bombings took place. Jeff and I didn’t like it too much. It has a different vibe than what we’re looking for. The people visiting Kuta are there on vacation, looking for sun, surf and good times. Club music blasts late into the night every day of the week giving no rest for the weary (unless you are lucky enough to have ear plugs). The restaurants along the main drag are pretty swanky and charge outrageous prices for not great food. We ended up eating at the local mall for much cheaper (we were also lucky enough to enjoy some live music outside the mall). We’re looking to travel, not really to vacation.

 

Kuta - Bread TalkMmm… we found a most delicious bakery at the mall.
Bread Talk was full of baked treats. A wonderful discovery.

Our time in Kuta was spent mostly fending off offers for things to buy and trying to avoid being run over by the motorbikes that drive everywhere. You can buy anything in Kuta, it’s a shoppers paradise. Bootleg DVDS for a dollar, bathing suits, fake Coach purses, real Billabong gear, and marijuana are all available for a price. Some shops are more legit than others – the guy offering us weed was whispering from behind by a tree on a dark street.

Kuta - Baby SurferA surfer in training – a young boy tries his hand at
boogie boarding.

Kuta is the place that made us ponder why we are on this trip. Why travel? While Gili Air was nice, it seems like a far way to go for such a short trip. We could have gone and hung out at Sable Beach in Ontario for way cheaper and it would have been a fairly similar experience (aside from the fish and the turtles). We’re hoping that the following weeks will provide us with opportunities to figure out why people travel. You can’t even begin to scratch the surface of a culture in two weeks – after spending a year in Korea and Mongolia I still can’t even begin to comprehend the cultures. The environmental impact of our trip is high. Our bank account will take a beating. Are we really seeing things so different than what we would see back home? This sounds pretty pessimistic, but it’s something that both Jeff and I have been thinking about over the past couple of days.

I’ll start by asking you: Why do you travel? What’s the purpose?

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~ by dawseng on July 4, 2009.

2 Responses to “Kuta, Indonesia”

  1. I’m not sure there’s a clear distinction between travelling and vacationing (vacating?). Literally, travelling is what you do on your way to a place (or possibly in pursuit of some goal), but if the point of the trip is just to go around to a lot of places, then you are spending your vacation travelling. From the currently fashionalbe secular perspective, the drunk Australian in the club is distinct from the awestruck Canadian in the orangutan lair (they live in lairs, right?) only in that he could have gone clubbing at home, but it’s not clear to me that that makes his trip any less valuable. You can(usually) only stab a thai ladyboy in Thailand, but that doesn’t give the act any superiority over more domestic pursuits. In addition to amoral equivalence, if the Australian eats the expensive food you mentioned and stays in expensive hotels, he will do more for the local economy (though admittedly less for the orangutans), and if the point of “travelling” is merely to collect experiences like they were snow-globes, the Australian in question will probably come home with more stories to tell, provided he picks all the right alleys to wander through. Then again, all this goes out the window if “travelling” has some inherent aesthetic value, but we’ve already been over the One Big Condition for anything having any inherent value, and you guys seemed unconvinced.

    At any rate, you’ll see some cool stuff, and that might train you to think of the world as a museum existing for your amusement (if Mongolia didn’t already do that to you. It did to me–see “Homeless Amputees: hilarious attacks by”) but as long as you find some sort of inherent aesthetic value not in travelling for its own sake, but in the vastness of the ocean or the sublimity of a volcano or the power of an undercooked shrimp, your trip will have been a valuable experience.

    IDOYG,
    Pat

    PS: Just so you have your guilt priorities straight, unless you have chartered a private plane for all your flights and left piles of garbage everywhere, you probably haven’t changed the eco-balance of the earth any more than you would have by going home (in fact, you probably would have done more damage at home). You could, however, have fed countless people who have died from lack of food since your trip began with the money you’ve spent. But don’t worry, I didn’t feed them either, so right now it’s a tie, but if you hit upon something transcendental over there, that’ll probably outweigh all the dead people; stay alert.

  2. Haven’t you heard? “fashionalbe” is the new “fashionable”

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